Despite it all- their miraculous escape, the blessing of a new beginning, the victory against the odds- his chest ached. As he sat there on the rocky cliff overlooking the ocean, he tightly clutched his shirt right above his heart, staring off into the setting sun in a trance. His heart was beating but he felt dead. They had made it. So why was this pain still lingering in his chest and eating away at his emotions as much as it did before they entered their new paradise?
Thomas's mind both churned and sat still. He found himself thinking, but not thinking. Feeling, but not feeling. It was too complicated to even sort out himself; the trauma and exhaustion was too much. What felt like eternities ago were really months and what felt like years were just a few hours. His whole life- the life he knew after he woke up in the Box- had dramatically changed even in itself.
He continued to sit there with the breeze brushing up against his skin, a relaxing sensation that he hadn't remembered in what felt like ages. His hollow thoughts panned over the course of events that had led him to where he was now, not completely dissecting every memory but merely skimming, and tried to find the source of his ache.
He chuckled to himself solemnly. The source of his ache? It might was be the whole shuck thing. He had gone to Hell and back for crying out loud. The Maze, the Scorch, Denver, WICKED, all the friends he'd lost, the innocent people he'd seen die, the Cranks... It was all too much for him to take in now. As he looked back as if rereading a book, it amazed him how he could have gotten through all that he did.
Thomas clutched his shirt tighter and brought his body into a slight fetal position. The memories kept skating through his mind, empty, void of emotion that was too much to feel. The thought that lingered longer in his mind was that of his dead friends. Alby. Chuck. Newt. Teresa.
The ache in his chest grew stronger at the thought of her. The hatred that had accumulated inside him lay stagnant at the bottom of his heart like he had nowhere to put it. Guilt had taken its place. Even to the end, she saved him.
He suddenly felt guilty for hating her for all that she did in the Scorch and for seemingly betraying him and his friends. The guilt felt foreign... completely different from all the other feelings he felt before. Thomas remembered her telling him over and over that all that she did in the Scorch was to save him in the long run. The guilt pulsed even stronger when he remembered not believing her and keeping to his hate, distrusting her even almost to the end, abandoning their precious connection, and condemning her for her actions that were meant to save him.
He should have been thanking her.
He felt the tears come to the corners of his eyes, the dryness and strain in his throat that he had felt screaming her name, and the pain in his chest almost bursting through. The pain was too much to bear. She had once been his best friend, always at his side, probably had known him the best, and always looked out for his well being. Her last words... how she said she only ever cared for him. That was what violently pulled on Thomas's heart.
Teresa had done so much for him. And what had he done for her? Pushed her away, distrusted her, hated her. In the end she died for him and her loyalty to him had never dwindled from the beginning. Why had he not realized that until now? He wouldn't be wallowing in this unbearable guilt along with mourning for her and his other friends. He wouldn't be feeling guilty for switching his attention to another.
Brenda had been genuinely by his side and grew so close to him, no doubt about that. However, he didn't know if Brenda would have done the same thing Teresa had but all he knew was that Teresa had done the bravest and most loyal thing he's seen anyone ever do all the way till the end. She sacrificed so much for the sake of Thomas's life, and the other Immunes' lives, and got nothing in return.
He wished, more than anything in the world in the moment, to tell her how sorry he was. She didn't deserve the treatment he'd given her, the hate he had felt, or the death that took her.
Thomas began to sob as his guilt gradually overwhelmed him, taking over every inch of his body. The soft breeze felt cold, like shots of ice traveling his nerves. His body shook and his chest heaved from his sobs and breaths.
"I'm so sorry, Teresa," he whispered in cries, "I'm so, so, so sorry."
He suddenly felt a warmth near his right cheek as if a hand caressed it. Thomas's eyes shot open as the sensation shocked him, the feeling clearly foreign to the numbness he currently felt. There was no one in front of him and no hand on his cheek, only the view of the ocean and setting sun were in his sights.
It's okay Tom.
The words came into his head in a light whisper. It didn't come in Teresa's voice nor in his in his mind... they just came. The warmth on his cheek began to slightly fade, leaving him less numb. A sort of calmness suddenly came over him after the warmth completely disappeared. He stared at his feet in front of him and let go of the tight grip he had on his shirt.
Teresa was gone but it felt as if she had come back down and forgave him with a simple warm touch. It was like she was telling him, "what's done is done, no turning back", "mourn but move forward".
That was all he- they- could do now: move forward to the future, rebuild from the new beginning given to them, and learn from the past. Thomas, through his overdue tears, broke out a small smile. Even in death, she was still looking out for him. Half of him wish ed she was still alive by his side as his best friend but the other half understood perfectly well that she didn't want him to wallow in his sorrows.
Remember and move forward.
He felt another warmth, but this time the warmth stayed and felt real on his shoulder. He turned and saw Brenda leaning over him through the glistening of his tears. Thomas hadn't notice her come up behind through his thoughts. She squeezed his shoulder and gave him a small smile, a reassurance that everything was going to be okay. Thomas wiped his tears away with his forearm and returned Brenda's smile with his own.
The pain in his chest weakened to mere, small debris in his heart. The pain was still there, of course; the death of his friends and their whole experience fighting WICKED and the Flare couldn't be reversed. Everything that had happened, every death, every twist and turn in their story allowed them to be where they were now- in a new beginning even if it was costly to get there. But it was alright. The wounds would heal with time.
All he, and everyone else, had to do was remember and move forward.